The Need for an SEA
Objectives

Welcome to the official website for the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the development of a Gas pipeline network for South Africa.

The website provides the general public with the opportunity to register as stakeholders; conveys the latest information and outputs of the assessment process for review and comments; and describes the opportunities for how stakeholders can engage further in the assessment over the 18 month SEA process.

The Need for an SEA

In 2012, Cabinet adopted the National Development Plan (NDP), which provided South Africa’s plan to accelerate infrastructure development in order to address service delivery backlogs and facilitate economic growth and job creation. Operation Phakisa is a fast results delivery programme that was launched in July 2014 to help implement the NDP. This is a unique initiative of the South African government to address key issues such as poverty, unemployment and inequality.

South Africa’s oil and gas sector is in the early development phase but nevertheless has the potential to create large value for the country in the long term. South Africa has potential resources of approximately 9 billion barrels oil and 11 billion barrels oil equivalent of gas. In order to realise the potential of the gas reserves in the country and to contribute to the transition to a low carbon economy, the Operation Phakisa Offshore Oil and Gas Lab has set a target of achieving 30 exploration wells in the next 10 years. In addition, the need to accelerate the planning for gas to power as part of the Government’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and for State Owned Entities to pre-plan for the logical development of gas transmission servitudes within South Africa was recognised.

Based on these needs, 11 initiatives were identified, the development of a phased gas pipeline network being one of them. Although infrastructure, including port facilities, pipeline networks and multi-purpose research vessels, is not currently a constraint to exploration, particularly for gas, however, incorporating the potential implications of offshore production into infrastructure plans proactively would be beneficial. Infrastructure development is therefore seen as an enabler for offshore exploration.

The development and related operation of infrastructure for the bulk transportation of dangerous goods (including gas using a pipeline exceeding 1000 m in length) is identified as activity 7 of Listing Notice 2 of 2014 as amended (GNR 325, 2017) and therefore require environmental authorisation in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, 2014. Strategic planning for servitudes also needs to be undertaken well in advance of the final planning of a gas transmission pipeline system. To ensure that when required, environmental authorisations are not a cause for delay and to support the Operation Phakisa, DEA in partnership with DoE and DPE representing iGas, Eskom and Transnet, has commissioned the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in April 2017 to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). The aim of this SEA is to identify and pre-assess environmental sensitivities within suitable gas routing corridors and, where required, expand the identified electricity power corridors (https://egi.csir.co.za), to facilitate a streamlined environmental authorisation process for the development of energy infrastructure related to gas and electricity.

Upon gazetting of the energy corridors, it is envisaged that the environmental authorisation process for gas pipeline and transmission infrastructure will be streamlined in specific areas identified through the SEA process as being less sensitive to the negative impacts associated with the development of these infrastructure. This should incentivise potential developers to plan and develop in the least sensitive areas.

The SEA process also provides a platform for coordination between the various authorities responsible for issuing authorisations, permits or consents and thereby will further contribute to a more streamlined environmental authorisation process.

The Preliminary Corridors (the starting point of the SEA) were identified as part of the Operation Phakisa and will link specific supply and demand areas. As part of the process to refine and confirm the preliminary gas transmission pipeline corridors, a series of workshops will be held to gather information from major gas users and important business and government stakeholders.

Objectives

Overall Objective

The overall objective of this SEA is framed as:

“In partnership with the Department of Energy and Department of Public Enterprises representing iGas, Eskom and Transnet, and in consultation with relevant stakeholders, identify; routing corridors, environmental management measures including norms or standards and a streamlined environmental authorisation for the construction of the linear infrastructure associated with energy provision including a gas pipeline network and electricity grid infrastructure as well as interventions required to secure long term the energy planning corridors and zones identified.“

Immediate project objective

“By the end of the first quarter of 2018, identify routing corridors and management measures for the construction of the Phased Gas Pipeline Network and for the expansion of the electricity grid infrastructure to allow Cabinet to approve the energy zones and corridors as well as the management and planning interventions for inclusion in the relevant legal environmental and legal framework and local government planning tools including Municipal Spatial Development Frameworks.”